Keeping It Cool

I'll be the first to admit that my daily hydration techniques are sub-par. In many ways, I feel as though I'm forcing myself to drink water throughout the year as opposed to drinking it simply because I want to. Honestly, water just sometimes loses its appeal and I seem to gravitate towards getting hydration through fresh fruits and vegetables - anything with flavor. It's not until the summertime city heat trap hits (New Yorkers, are you with me?) that I'm finally grabbing for anything cold and hydrating, from fresh watermelon to coconut water. It's no wonder seasonal summertime menus place emphasis on fresh summer fruits and vegetables that we crave for their nutritional and hydrating effects. 

That said, there are plenty of options right at our fingertips during these hot summer months, from local grocery stores to farmer's markets and perhaps even your own backyard (if you're one of the lucky few). Quench your thirst in more creative ways than water alone with some of my favorite picks below. Although, it's always wise to keep a full water bottle with you at all times. 

Watermelon

Nearly 92% water, this gem of a fruit is high in lycopene which is especially important for cardiovascular health. Other compounds in watermelon (i.e. flavonoids & carotenoids) give way to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits, helping to neutralize free radicals in our bodies. The deeper the shade of the flesh, the better.

Ways To Enjoy

In a Watermelon Blueberry Mint Salad by tossing together 3-4 cups of fresh watermelon chunks, 1 pint of fresh blueberries, juice of one half of a lemon and a few mint leaves. Festive selection for the upcoming July 4th holiday as well...

As a Watermelon-Coconut Agua Fresca by combining 3 cups of your favorite coconut water, 3 cups of watermelon chunks and 3 tbsp of fresh lime juice into a blender and serving chilled on ice. 

With a kick, in the form of a Spicy Jalapeno & Watermelon Margarita

Slice them into cubes and toss in the freezer for easy watermelon ice cubes for summer cocktails and other refreshing sips. 

Cucumber 

Almost completely composed of water (97%), cucumbers contain the highest water content of any solid food. They contain unique polyphenols called lignans which are connected to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as well as many types of cancers (from ovarian to prostate). Opt for those that are a bright medium to rich green, preferably displayed in refrigerated sections of the store, as they are very sensitive to heat. 

Ways To Enjoy

Cucumber Noodles with Peanut Sauce for a light and easy dish full of flavor. 

Try this Cucumber Mint Gazpacho which combines amazing & refreshing flavors from green bell pepper, avocado, jalapeno, garlic, mint and lime. 

In these Collard Vegetable Wraps with a delicious & cooling basil hemp seed sauce for when you're in the mood for something that's crunchy, but not a salad. 

Tomatoes

Also high in lycopene and antioxidants, tomatoes are about 95% water and there are so many various types, from Roma to the more commonly used cherry. They are also high in Vitamin C and maganese and are well known for their anti-cancer benefits. 

Ways To Enjoy

A lovely spin on the classic caprese with this Quinoa & Tomato Salad with Arugula Pesto If you're like me and love to dig for the cherry tomatoes in any kind of pasta salad, be sure to add plenty here. 

A Classic Mojito with tequila and fresh cherry tomatoes? Yes, it exists and while you wouldn't think to pair these ingredients, it could be a new summer favorite. 

Homemade Tomato Salsa as a garnish for grilled fish, a topping for avocado toast, or for double dipping your pita chips alongside a bowl of hummus or fresh guacamole. 

Raw Spinach

Rich in lutein, potassium, fiber, and brain-boosting folate, spinach is composed of 90% water and just one cup contains 15% of your daily intake of Vitamin E - an important antioxidant for fighting free radicals. 

Ways To Enjoy

I prefer adding spinach into any morning smoothie. It's the perfect way to get a hydrating & alkalizing morning fix that's nearly tasteless when adding ingredients such as a sliced banana, handful of frozen strawberries, tbsp of unsalted almond butter and almond milk. Perhaps this Mint Cacao Smoothie will hit the spot. 

A simple, nutrient dense salad like this Strawberry Spinach Salad with strawberries, kiwi and macadamia nuts. Tweak it to your own liking and add any other fruits and nut toppings as your please.

Spinach Potato Salad with a green goddess dressing which calls for ingredients such as parsley (Vitamin C), pumpkin seeds (rich in iron), heart-healthy flaxseed oil and fresh lemon juice. The addition of potatoes pack a nutritious and energizing punch with the addition of Vitamin B6.

Strawberries

Extremely high in Vitamin C and compromised of 91% water, strawberries are excellent for cardiovascular health, improved regulation of blood sugar and prevention of certain types of cancers. Look for a shiny, deep red color with the green stems attached and consume within two days for maximum Vitamin C consumption - otherwise, store in the freezer.

Ways To Enjoy 

In addition to adding to salads and tossing in to smoothies, they're also perfect for Summertime Popsicles and the only additional ingredients needed are water, maple syrup and fresh mint leaves. Leave the unnecessary sugar behind and enjoy this naturally sweet & refreshing treat. 

Strawberry Chia Pudding in which case the strawberry jam is layered between plump chia seed layers for additional hydration as a result from soaking the chia seeds overnight. Also use the strawberry jam mixture in this recipe to top on pancakes and oatmeal!

Strawberry Rhubarb Mint Mojitos that are perfect for cheers-ing and toasting without the awful hangover the next morning. 

Allison WaltonComment